Research Opportunities for Independent Schools

Working with researchers can be a powerful way to access relevant, context-specific, up to date evidence about a variety of educational topics of importance to your school. This can range from pedagogical frameworks and approaches to opportunities to meaningfully engage with industry. It can also provide opportunities for tailored educator professional learning.

The Evidence Institute assists external researchers when they seek to engage independent schools in their projects, as well as supporting independent schools that are interested in engaging with external research.

On this page, you will find:

  • current research opportunities
  • ethics considerations
  • guidelines for collaboration between external researchers and independent schools.

Current Research Opportunities

Current research opportunities are listed below.

**Please note that approval from the Principal or Head of School is required for all research conducted in independent schools. Research initiatives listed here are not formally endorsed by AISNSW. 

This research aims to explore teachers’ experiences of having to abandon the traditional classroom for home-based teaching during COVID-19s period of rapid and unprecedented change.

The research team would like to invite teachers from independent schools to participate in this research. Participation would involve construction of a short PhotoVoice digital narrative – a visual/verbal story created through video of photographs, and accompanied by a verbal/written story about the images. It is anticipated that construction of the digital narrative would take around 30 minutes and they would then be submitted to the research data collection portal. 

Stories will be analysed to reveal how this change impacted on teachers’ identity as teachers. This includes their understanding of teaching, what they did, how they related to others as well as conditions enabling or constraining them during the time of remote learning.

Please contact the researchers directly if you are interested in participating in this research.

Guidelines for Collaboration

Key hints for independent schools

  • Follow school based processes to approve participation – in a majority of cases this will require sign off by the school Principal
  • Ensure researchers provide Ethics Approval information – this means their project has been considered by a formal Ethics Committee.
  • Engage with the research description - when doing so consider relevance of the research, connection to your school aims, and the degree of school commitment and resourcing required. Do not hesitate to ask as many questions as needed of the researchers.
  • Review consent information – information about risk and impact will be included in consent documentation. Ensure that researchers include an option for withdrawal from the project, along with specific details of whether you and your school would be identified or not.
  • Consider collaboration and learning - be a research partner as well as participant
  • Identify research questions – don’t be afraid to identify additional research questions you might want answered and discuss with the research team. This might involve you also conducting research alongside your research partner, with their support.
  • Consider staff as co-researchers – if you feel it would be appropriate and beneficial, you could consider whether staff could participate as researchers. This would provide a powerful capacity building opportunity and bring additional resources to the research project.

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Key hints for researchers

It is important to remember that conducting research in independent schools is different to working with those in the government sector, and systemic Catholic schools. Authority for participation in research stays with the Principal or Head of each school and approval needs to be sought directly with them.

  • Follow school based processes to approve participation – in a majority of cases this will require sign off by the school Principal.
  • Provide adequate detail – provision of clear, succinct and detailed information about your research can assist schools in deciding whether to participate in your research.
  • Ensure ethical clearance – the sensitive nature of many school environments makes ethical clearance essential. Where possible obtaining ethics and having all documentation ready prior to connecting with a school is beneficial.
  • Communicate benefits – provide clarity about how the school will benefit from participation, outputs, outcomes and impacts.
  • Review design - Consider participatory design elements to ensure school voice, and opportunities for educators to take part in conducting the research.
  • Collaborate - Consider opportunities for schools to contribute to research focus, including the development of research questions and directions for analysis.
  • Engage with context - Know your schools before approaching them. independent schools are unique entities.

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Ethics Considerations

Two key resources have been developed to assist researchers and schools in understanding ethics.